Dhoni thanks England team

Special Correspondent

Mohali: Mahendra Singh Dhoni thanked the England team for returning for the Test series after the terror strikes in Mumbai.

“I would like to thank the England team for coming and playing in India. They’ve proved that India is not an unsafe place. We had good cricket over the series,” said the Indian captain.

Given the conditions — the morning fog was a big factor — timing the declaration was not easy. “There was not much wear and tear in the pitch. We were leading the series 1-0 and I was not 100 per cent sure that if we put them in to chase, we could get them out. At the same time we wanted Gambhir and Yuvraj to score their centuries,” said Dhoni.

Good bowling unit

Dhoni said England was a good bowling unit with the presence of Andrew Flintoff lending balance to the side. “I had said at the start of the series that England is a good bowling side. With Flintoff coming in at seven, they can play with five specialist bowlers. Flintoff isn’t just an all-rounder, he’s better than your specialist fast bowler.”

He acknowledged that it was difficult for a team to come back in a two-Test series. “In a two-game series, if you lose the first Test, it gets very difficult to come back, especially if it’s an away series, because home teams will take advantage and prepare pitches to suit themselves. I think a three-Test series is ideal. Five becomes a bit too much.”

The Indian skipper said his men were not training all their thoughts on becoming the No. 1 Test team. “We just want to play good cricket. We have plans for the opposition and the execution of the plans has been brilliant so far.”

He dwelt on the potential of Yuvraj. “He’s a very talented player. But at the same time, it’s not about whether he can replace Sourav, about who’s better and whether he’s the ideal replacement or not. He’s Yuvraj Singh and I’d like to talk about him as Yuvraj Singh.”

Dhoni was lavish in his praise for ‘Man of the Series’ Zaheer Khan. “He’s very clear in his thoughts. He plans against every batsman. He has transformed himself into a thinking cricketer. He knows what to do to get the reverse swing going as quickly as possible.”

He dwelt on the team-spirit in the side. “We’re enjoying each other’s success. We’re a team, rather than seniors or juniors. We’re a unit. We go and hunt in packs. If a spinner doesn’t get a wicket, somebody else takes the responsibility. If the bowlers aren’t getting wickets, part-timers come and take wickets. In this set-up, we have open discussions.”

On the return to form of Rahul Dravid, Dhoni said, “We are going to New Zealand and the ball will be doing a bit there...the conditions will favour the seam bowlers. So yes, it’s good to see Dravid back among the runs. He will be a real help for the other batsmen on what they need to do when they are in New Zealand.”

Lot of positives

Kevin Pietersen said England could take a lot of positives from the series. “We came here with very little preparation for the series against such a great side. India has played fantastic cricket at the moment. They have been on top of their game... especially in India. We gave ourselves a good chance in Chennai but Tendulkar took it away from us.

He said poor light here had hurt England’s chances of levelling the series.

Like Dhoni, he stressed on having a three-Test series.

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